Joey Barton says tonight’s Checkatrade Trophy clash with Rochdale at Highbury is an opportunity for fringe players to prove they deserve a spot in his League One side.
READ MORE: Fantastic fans made Fleetwood feel at home in Doncaster says Joey Barton
Town ended a run of five matches without a win by beating Doncaster 4-0 at the Keepmoat on Saturday.
Cian Bolger, Eddie Clarke, Bobby Grant and Gethin Jones were left out of the squad at the weekend and head coach Barton says tonight’s 7.45pm kick-off is a chance to impress, though Bolger is suspended after his red card in the previous Checkatrade tie against Leicester City U21.
Barton said: “It is a one- game-at-a-time mentality. We have a tough game in the Checkatrade and it will be an opportunity for some of our lads to stake a claim for positions in the first team.
“We are a real team and there is a real squad togetherness. I’m excited about what the future holds for Fleetwood.
“I told you that on Friday. I’m not sure you quite believed me but hopefully you do now.”
After sustaining two more injuries at Doncaster, losing left-back James Husband after 10 minutes and central midfielder James Wallace, Barton was forced to reshuffle his side during the game.
And the Town boss says that is why he swooped for experienced players like Ross Wallace and Ryan Taylor, who bring versatility.
And Barton says that is a smart approach to recruitment.
He said: “Instead of recruiting people who are specific for one position, you need to have versatility because of the number of games and how thick and fast they come.
“We know Ross Wallace can play left-back at a push, left midfield, right midfield, central midfield and number 10.
“Ryan Taylor can play right-back, left-back, holding midfield, right or left midfield.
“Having those boys in the building gives you that versatility. It is something I like.
“I don’t like to have four centre-halves. I much prefer to have flexibility in there.
“We brought Tommy Spurr in because we thought he could play left-back... so we thought!
“We are not paying millions of pounds for players, so you have got to get smart with your recruitment.”
Barton was boosted by the 4-0 win but added: “I’d quite happily take 1-0. The three points is all that matters. It is great to put the icing and the cherry on the top but for us it is about winning the next game.”